New Penn State Program Aims to Help Prepare South African University Leaders

The College of Education at Pennsylvania State University has entered into a partnership agreement with three universities in the Republic of South Africa. The program is called “Phakamisa,” which means “to grow or lift up.” The goal of the program is to train the next generation of academic leaders for South Africa.

Under the agreement, 10 doctoral students and some faculty members at Rhodes University, the Durban University of Technology, and the University of Zululand will come to Penn State in the summers of 2019 and 2020.

David Guthrie, an associate professor of education in the department of education policy studies at Penn State, explains that “we will provide the kinds of input that we can, and that they believe will be helpful to their preparation as doctoral candidates. That’s the point; they are earning doctoral degrees. We’re helping them prepare their doctoral students.”

Doctoral programs in South Africa differ from those in the United States in that there is no formal coursework, only an independent learning project that culminates in a defensible dissertation. Dr. Guthrie said that South African colleagues were particularly interested in exploring different ways to do doctoral education. Dr. Guthrie notes that by introducing extensive doctoral level coursework “we believe that’s how you develop mastery that, in turn, prepares students to complete a dissertation of some topic of their choosing.”


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